South African rand firms but remains range-bound, stocks fall

South African Rand coins are seen in this photo illustration taken September 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s rand firmed against the dollar on Friday, but the currency was stuck in a range as investors sought clarity on whether a new U.S. law backing Hong Kong protesters could derail trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing.

At 1520 GMT the rand was 0.34% firmer at 14.6550 per dollar. Traders had expected the rand to trade in a range of 14.60-14.80 a dollar.

The focus was on U.S.-China trade developments after the United States backed anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, as well as domestic third-quarter gross domestic product numbers due on Tuesday.

“Rand awaits GDP data and global developments,” said Bianca Botes, treasury partner at Peregrine Treasury Solutions.

“China’s response to the U.S.’s two new laws supporting Hong Kong protesters remains unknown and potentially harmful for the U.S. and the trade deal.”

Investors were uncertain about the fate of a ‘phase-one’ trade deal between the two economies, after Beijing warned the United States on Thursday it would take “firm counter measures” in response to the U.S. legislation.

On the bourse, the benchmark JSE Top-40 Index was down 0.76% to 49,093 points while the broader All-Share Index fell 0.63% to 55,349 points.

Anglo-South African financial services group Investec closed 1.8% lower after the firm said it would sell about 10% of its asset management business, to be renamed Ninety One, when it is spun off as part of a demerger expected in March.

Bonds edged firmer, with the yield on the benchmark 2026 paper down 2 basis points to 8.455%.

Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Naledi Mashishi; Editing by Alison Williams

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